Saturday, October 05, 2013

Living the Pantry Lifestyle... in a small space

This photo is from a few years ago when the kitchen "island" was against the wall.
I was asked how to "deepen the pantry" when one lives in a small space.  I'd say it is very similar to the challenges faced by people on a very limited budget.

You must think outside the box when it comes to space.  For instance, I don't have very much cabinet space in my kitchen so I use the antique yellow cabinet (Stephanie gets it in my will) for most of my baking supplies and a few other items such as the large container of canola oil.  It doesn't take up much room, looks wonderfully vintage, and holds a lot!

I also use the tiny shower space in the equally tiny bathroom for storage.  It contains extra nonfood items and kitty kibble.  Not to mention I dry my herbs on the shower rod each year.  ;)

Some people use "under the bed" storage containers but I find they are out of sight and out of mind in my home.  We have a set of storage shelves in the garage that we use as a pantry.

Prioritizing and Purchasing
With a limited budget and/or limited space it becomes even more important to prioritize.  I have two different ways of looking at what to buy for the pantry.  The first is to have at least one extra of necessary items.  What I consider necessary may be different than others.  I also try to stock up on sale.

For instance, I use butter instead of margarine and I buy it on sale.  This week Kroger had a pound of store brand butter for $1.88 each.  I bought four of them and put them in the freezer above my frig.  If I am buying butter for stock up, I only buy salted butter since that is what I use most of the time.  If I am buying butter for a baking recipe specifically, I will then purchase unsalted butter.

Dried pasta is a priority, too.  I keep mine in a bread drawer in my cabinets that I did not use for bread.  I use to get all kinds of pasta but now I only stock up on what I use the most... spaghetti, rotini or penne, and orzo.  I buy the thin spaghetti since it can also be used in place of oriental noodles in Asian recipes.  Anything that can serve double duty is helpful (like thin spaghetti and salted butter).

When you are able to stock up only on few items, it is not only helpful to keep an ongoing pantry shopping list but I find it essential.  Otherwise I forget items.  When do I remember the most?  When I'm out of something!  Now I make certain when I use the last of an item that I put it on the shopping list.  For some items that I want to keep a fairly good supply of... they will get put on the shopping list when I'm down to a certain number (like King Arthur flour).  That way I can also look for a sale.

The Winter Storm way of thinking
I once wrote an entire post about how I prioritize what I purchase for the pantry by thinking about what I stock up on if we are under a Winter Storm Watch.

Believe me, there is nothing like the thought of not being able to get to the grocery store for awhile to help you decide what to put on your pantry shelves.  Also, in our neck of the woods we can lose power so I have to also consider items which do not need to be cooked.

TEOTWAWKI way of thinking
For the uninitiated, that is The End of the World as we Know It.  Even for those who feel no need to keep a deep pantry, or like my family cannot afford a deep pantry, doing such a mental exercise helps you prioritize.

For instance, what if suddenly the trucks stop running or the Zombie Apocalypse is upon us?  (Don't laugh, I have a book on my Kindle that suggests how to store for a Zombie Apocalypse... it was free at the time and offers an amusing way of thinking about pantries.)

Added:  The link to Zombie Apocalypse Kindle edition is here.  It does not have good Amazon reviews, saying the info is far too simple.  Also, I have not read all of it so I don't know if it has any bad language or anything.  But I picked it up for free...

This kind of planning pretty much requires reading all you can online and in books for the best information.  I am giving the link to my Stocking Up posts below and always remember... if you scroll down the sidebar of this blog there is an entire section of Deepening the Pantry links to favorite articles and websites.   Don't give up, keep scrolling down... it's there.

Regarding using freezers
I use my deep freeze all the time.  The chest style freezers are very reasonably priced and allows one to purchase items in season, meat on sale, store fragile grains like cornmeal, etc.  My mother lived in a tiny house after I was married and she had an apartment size freezer in the tiniest of kitchens.  So it is usually possible to have one, especially to take advantage of sales on meat and to store some berries as she did.

Having said that, I also realize an extended power outage will cause everything in it to ruin so I do not rely on my freezer for an extended emergency.  I've had the power out for quite awhile and made sure we did not open the freezer during that time.  Everything was still well frozen when the power came on.

If you depend on a freezer for your supply of meat and garden veggies, a generator can keep it going for awhile.  My freezer is next to the garage door in the garage, which would keep it very cold should a power outage happen in winter.

This time I give you the link which supplies most of the stocking up posts I have written through the years.  I used to only write a series of deepening the pantry posts at a time and made each quite in-depth.  Then I later switched to writing a little at a time every Saturday.

Those links can be found... here.  You will Older Posts when you get to the bottom of the page, click on it and it continues the posts until it runs out.


Jennifer said...

Do you happen to remember the title of the zombie apocalypse book you mentioned? I've tried searching on Amazon, but I'm not having much luck yet. Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

I use the under the bed boxes and find it helpful to use one for baking basics and another for say mayo and condiments etc. One for things I canned and such. You are right though, our of sight and sometimes out of mind! How long can you keep butter in the freezer? I have noted the date on the packages is not far away from the purchase date on dairy things. Do you freeze Philly cream cheese? I suppose you cannot freeze sour cream. We find now even the small tub can go bad on us before we use it up. As you have noted many people clear out a coat or linen closet and use that for storage of food stuffs. They put the linens in the bedroom closets or one set of sheets even under the mattress. Oh Brenda,...don't try tying up sunflower heads in the in a detached garage to dry. I found the mice loved the seeds !!! :-) Sarah

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

rebecca said...

Seems I always pick up a helpful tip or two whenever you post about the Pantry Lifestyle...Thanks, Brenda!

Vee said...

Bigelow tea! I'm getting some for the hospitality pantry. I purchased some Pepperidge Farm cookies today for the pantry. Sadly, someone found them and they are no more.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the helpful tips.

Don't things freeze when they are stored in the garage in the winter?

Elizabeth said...

I always enjoy your helpful tips!

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

I always enjoy reading your pantry posts! I'm actually getting ready to move my pantry to the utility closet. It's less space than I had before but I'm re-organizing my kitchen cabinets so they can hold more food.